Into the Woods

Organisers Sam Wright and Nicole Cross at Neck of the Woods 2017. IMAGE: Aaron Ashley.

Neck of the Woods, a Townsville music festival launched in 2017, will this year expand to a two-night event celebrating the best of original music from around Australia.

The festival was conceived by the team behind Neighbourhood Sessions – pop-up backyard gigs with local musicians – and organisers Nicole Cross and Sam Wright said the concept had quickly exceeded their expectations.

“When Neighbourhood Sessions first started, we both thought it would be a few of our friends coming to our backyard to watch the show – but then 100 people came! When that happened, we realised people wanted that sort of thing and we decided to make something out of it,” Nicole said.

“The problem with the backyard gigs though is that because they have such limited capacity, they book out quickly and people who would love to go miss out. The festival is a great opportunity to make sure nobody misses out while enjoying the same laidback atmosphere as our backyard shows.”

The Neck of the Woods Festival will, for the most part, be an amplified version of Neighbourhood Sessions’ backyard performances – albeit with a longer list of musicians, and the addition of an artesian marketplace, camping, food trucks, and visual art installations.

“I think when we first came up with Neck of the Woods, we thought it would essentially be a big Neighbourhood Sessions. But as we started promoting it, we realised it would be much bigger than we first thought – it would be a real festival,” Nicole said.

“This year, we’ve expanded the Festival to a two-night event – it’s on the show long weekend, so gives people time to settle in and enjoy the whole weekend if they’re camping with us,” said Sam.

“The musicians will be almost an even mix of locals and visiting acts. There’s that level there between people who just perform in their own area and then those that are able to tour, the ones that probably couldn’t make it to Townsville off their own backs, so we’re bringing a lot of those artists here and giving them that chance to break out and perform outside their hometown.

“It’s so amazing that locals are supporting original songwriters; I think there’s a mindset that people prefer covers, but we’re changing that and people are starting to realise how awesome it is to see what these musicians have created.”

From a quaint backyard gig with a donation tin at the gate to a festival that has already had to change locations to meet growing demand, Neck of the Woods is proof that creative risks in Townsville pay off – and that locals’ attitudes toward original music are evolving.

Catch the 2018 Neck of the Woods Festival at a secret location from 30 June – 2 July. For more information and tickets, click here.

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